With global market research biggies like IMS Health, Ipsos, Maritz, and TNS already offshoring work to Indian third party companies and others like AC Nielsen all set to invest in a captive unit here, market research is tipped to be the next hot business process outsourcing opportunity.
Though it is just a Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) business in India, market research is a Rs 85,000 crore (Rs 850 billion) industry worldwide. Moreover, global MR agencies spend up to 25 per cent of their revenue on research, analysis and other back-office functions, all of which are theoretically outsourcable.
"Every process that does not require a direct client interface can be outsourced. So global majors get everything -- right from questionnaire design, survey programming, the actual survey, data cleansing, data processing and analysis to preparing the final presentation -- done in India," said Anuraag Srivastava, vice president, knowledge services at WNS Global Services.
WNS services four WPP group MR agencies and another three of the top 10 global market research outfits. The company sees MR as its fastest growing business as it expects more MR giants to climb on the BPO bandwagon and existing clients to outsource a larger chunk of their revenues.
MR agencies are not just restricting their outsourcing activities to third party vendors. AC Nielsen, a VNU company has plans to set up a captive unit in the country.
Rajiv Inamdar, executive director, AC Nielsen India confirmed the development. "We are in the process of setting up a separate unit that will cater to AC Nielsen's requirements. The unit, based in Mumbai, will be a division of AC Nielsen India and will not be a separate company. For this purpose, we are talking to several AC Nielsen companies spread across the globe. The Indian outfit will provide customised research to AC Nielsen's Asia Pacific region and the Middle East. We will later extend it to Europe.
"Though initially the quantum of outsourcing work to India will be small, we believe that it will be expanded gradually. The scope of work done from here will be data processing, analysis, charting and report writing," Inamdar added.
India holds a lot of attraction for these MR agencies mainly because the world over they have been facing substantial pricing squeeze and want to reduce their costs.
A larger intellectual pool with expertise in areas like survey programming and statistical analysis and the resultant faster results are other major clinchers.